Review: What Souls Are Made Of by Tasha Suri

Posted July 5, 2022 by Richetta in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

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Review: What Souls Are Made Of by Tasha Suri

I received this book for free from Feiwel & Friends in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Review: What Souls Are Made Of by Tasha SuriWhat Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix by Tasha Suri
Published by Feiwel & Friends on July 5, 2022
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Classics, Young Adult Fiction / Historical / Europe, Young Adult Fiction / Romance / Historical, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Class Differences
Pages: 320
Format: ARC, Hardcover
Source: Feiwel & Friends
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Goodreads

What Souls Are Made Of, British Fantasy Award-winning author Tasha Suri's masterful new take on Brontë's Wuthering Heights and fourth book in the Remixed Classics, will leave readers breathless.

Sometimes, lost things find their way home...

Yorkshire, North of England, 1786. As the abandoned son of a lascar—a sailor from India—Heathcliff has spent most of his young life maligned as an "outsider." Now he's been flung into an alien life in the Yorkshire moors, where he clings to his birth father's language even though it makes the children of the house call him an animal, and the maids claim he speaks gibberish.

Catherine is the younger child of the estate's owner, a daughter with light skin and brown curls and a mother that nobody talks about. Her father is grooming her for a place in proper society, and that's all that matters. Catherine knows she must mold herself into someone pretty and good and marriageable, even though it might destroy her spirit.

As they occasionally flee into the moors to escape judgment and share the half-remembered language of their unknown kin, Catherine and Heathcliff come to find solace in each other. Deep down in their souls, they can feel they are the same.

But when Catherine's father dies and the household's treatment of Heathcliff only grows more cruel, their relationship becomes strained and threatens to unravel. For how can they ever be together, when loving each other—and indeed, loving themselves—is as good as throwing themselves into poverty and death?

Praise for What Souls Are Made Of:

"A gorgeously reclaimed Gothic. ... I’m a Tasha Suri fan for life." —Chloe Gong, New York Times-bestselling author of These Violent Delights

"With its brooding characters, gorgeous setting, and a romance that sparkles with electricity, this retelling of Wuthering Heights breathes fresh air into an old classic." —Stacey Lee, New York Times-bestselling author of The Downstairs Girl and Luck of the Titanic

I’m excited to be hosting a spot on the What Souls Are Made Of by Tasha Suri book tour hosted by Colored Pages Tours. Check out my review and be sure to visit the other stops!

When I taught Advanced Placement Literature, I started the year off with Wuthering Heights. One year I came across a movie version of the book that cast Heathcliff as Black. This lead me down a road of research and annotation to prove that this perspective of Heathcliff being a person of color was correct. So needless to say I’ve been waiting in high anticipation for What Souls Are Made Of by Tasha Suri, a Wuthering Heights remix to come out. Plus, the book cover is a ten!

I really enjoyed this multicultural remix! I loved the decisions that the author made with the story. Her choices brought historical and cultural context in a space that was previously missing it.

Original Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is dark, gothic and tragic. There is an abundance of cruelty that passes from one character to the next. The plot includes domestic violence, alcoholism, childhood trauma and revenge. Catherine and Heathcliff are a couple so perfect for each other, yet doomed by cruelty, societal standards and expectations.

The Remix

In Tasha Suri’s What Souls Are Made Of, the plot framing stays true to the original, but gives a voice to one character we never heard enough from. Catherine.

In this remix, we get to hear Cathy’s thoughts and motivations. For those who read the original Wuthering Heights, when I say Cathy, I am referring to the girl Heathcliff was in love with, not her daughter. IYKYK. The book also covers the space that was left out of the original – what happened while Heathcliff was gone. Their separation leads to discoveries about their own identities and inner character. It also opens up new paths to these originally, extremely tragic characters.

The chapters alternate between the two character’s points of views. Both of them are telling a story and essentially addressing their missing half at the same time. I really enjoyed the prose of the novel. It is almost lyrical in its use of simple sentence structure to convey complicated emotions that both Heathcliff and Cathy have for each other and about their situation.

South Asian Representation

In What Souls Are Made Of, Suri brings back the multicultural and multidimensional reality that Great Britain was at the time the novel was set. Heathcliff is readily identifiable as the son of a lascar. A lascar, was a sailor from India or South Asia. In Wuthering Heights, he is only seen as the ultimate outsider, a darker skinned boy with no family, history or place. At least not one that is identified by Bronte. In this remix, Heathcliff’s past is still mysterious, but he is given a culture to identify with.

The Earnshaw family also has a connection to India, as Mr. Earnshaw was an East India Company officer in Bengal. The book explores the colonialist connections between Britain and India. I recommend that you read the Author’s Note at the end of the book that discusses this further.

Audiobook

I alternated between the audiobook and the physical copy of the book. The narrators did a great job and I never felt taken out of the story. The voice actors have the accents of what I think would be those held by the region of England that Heathcliff and Cathy live in. This made it even more authentic to listen to and I appreciate that choice.

HAVE A SIP OF COCOA ☕…

I came for… a remix that has South Asian rep

I stayed for…. to hear the parts not told in the original.

Hot Cocoa Moments: There is a big reveal. That’s all I can say.

Would I Read it Again: Yes.

Educator Recommendations: You could teach this instead of Wuthering Heights, or pair it with it for students to discuss the decisions Tasha Suri made as author of the remix. If you pair, have students keep a running list of what is left out or unsaid or as mysterious. What is made ambiguous in Wuthering Heights that actually wouldn’t be in modern day? Reading What Souls Are Made of is a great way to get students into a space where they start questioning the framing of texts and looking at them from a cultural and literary perspective. The one-dimensional Great Britain that Bronte keeps as her setting despite the details connected to her characters like Heathcliff and Mr. Earnshaw, should be questioned and explored.

Author Tasha Suri
Tasha Suri

About the Author

Tasha Suri is an award-winning author, occasional librarian and cat owner. Her South Asian influenced epic fantasy novels include The Books of Ambha duology (Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash), and The Jasmine Throne. When she isn’t writing, Tasha likes to cry over TV shows, buy too many notebooks, and indulge her geeky passion for reading about South Asian history. She lives with her family in a mildly haunted house in London. What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix is her YA debut.

Author Links: 

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